Obama details $5 billion plan to help restore Great Lakes
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama proposed a $5 billion trust fund this week to clean up and restore the Great Lakes — a move that may help him win votes in Michigan and Ohio. The fund would be aimed at restoring area wetlands, cleaning up contaminated sediments, curbing the spread of invasive species, and fixing leaky sewers that often empty into the lakes. Money for the Great Lakes project would come from rescinding tax breaks for oil and gas companies. The feds spent $1.7 billion to clean up the lakes between 1992 and 2004, and President Bush created a Great Lakes task force in 2004 that cataloged the lakes’ ills. The group concluded that some $20 billion was needed to restore the lakes’ health, but the funding never came through. “Bush signed the executive order in a closely contested election year, which was worthwhile and important, but once he got elected he turned his back on it,” said Jordan Lubetkin of Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition. A few months ago, both Obama and John McCain signed a pledge promising “significant funding” for Great Lakes projects, though so far only Obama has articulated a figure or a specific plan.